Read an Excerpt
Have you ever dreamed of being a judge? Have you ever been on a jury? Have you ever had the chance to decide the fate of another person by rendering a verdict of guilty or not guilty, liable or not liable? This is your chance. In the real-life cases that follow, you will be the judge, making the ultimate decision between right and wrong.
These cases are presented from the viewpoint of a juror observing the trial. The title You Be the Judge was chosen because in American jury trials, the juror is the real judge of the evidence, the one who decides with eleven other jurors whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty; in a death penalty case, whether the defendant should live or die; and, in a civil case, whether the defendant is liable, and if so, for what amount.
In 1992, Judge Ehrenfreund coauthored a book titled You're the Jury. Now he draws upon over forty-fi ve years of experience as a trial lawyer and judge to bring readers a new work, expanding upon You're the Jury and adding many new cases to challenge the reader's sense of justice.
This book is based on real-life jury trials that have been shortened and slightly altered to protect the privacy of persons involved and also to protect readers from the tedium that oft en pervades the trial experience. Certain facts-including names, places, and dates-have been changed. have been shortened (in some cases omitted altogether), and there are no tedious delays for conferences between the judge and attorneys at sidebar or in chambers, no waiting in the hallway for court to begin, and no heated deliberations with other jurors who cannot understand your point of view. You will see only what the jury sees. The principal issues, however, remain the same as in the actual cases.
Many of these trials raise difficult questions because they go beyond the written law to the heart of one's own moral code. Could you, for instance, find a father guilty of kidnapping his 24-year-old daughter from a cult he believed was poisoning her mind? Does a wife who has been repeatedly battered by her husband have the right to kill him out of fear he will beat her again? Is it murder or suicide when a man helps a close friend die in order to avoid experiencing the ravages of AIDS? Is it rape or consensual sex when a woman consents to having intercourse and then in the throes of passion insists that her partner immediately stop, but he does not comply? There are civil trials here, too-a daughter's plea to the jury to let her 92-year-old mother die in peace, a woman's lawsuit for one million dollars in damages against her former lover for his intentional infliction of emotional distress, and a boy's suit against the government for violating his constitutional rights. Could you grant their wishes, based on the evidence?
Put yourself in the place of one of the twelve jurors as you listen to the details of each case. When the trial is over, you may turn to the general jury instructions in the back of the book; they present the law that applies to each case. Certain instructions of law are contained within the cases themselves. What would your verdict be? After you have made up your mind, read through the questions and answers that follow each trial, and finally, read on to see what the real jury decided.
The case is now in your hands.